Jabalpur, May 26 (ILNS): The Madhya Pradesh High Court has noted that the state government has not received even half of the promised quantity of vaccine doses for the month of May 2021, either from the Central government or from two major manufacturers within the country, in response to orders placed by them.
The court opined that the Central government ought to reconsider efficacy of its vaccination policy.
The Bench of Chief Justice Mohammad Rafiq and Justice Atul Sreedharan noted: “The Central government should consider taking upon itself the responsibility of providing the required number of vaccination doses to the state by setting up more and more units in all the states with required licence from the local manufacturers, to ramp up the production of the vaccination on a war footing.”
The state’s Advocate General informed the court that the state has received a total of 96.12 lakh doses of vaccine from the Government of India against which, a total of 87.61 lakh doses have been administered to healthcare providers, frontline workers and citizens of the age group of above 45 years.
He submitted that the state has made payment for 15 lakh doses of the vaccine, of which 2.5 lakh doses have been received by the state and accordingly vaccination of age group of 18 to 45 years begun from May 5. He further informed the court that by the end of January 2022, vaccination may be administered to almost all the beneficiaries in the State falling within the age group of 18 to 45 years, provided the required number of doses are regularly supplied by the Central Govt. and the local manufacturers.
The Counsel for the petitioner submitted that the state government under Article 21 of the Constitution of India is under an obligation to procure and provide doses to all the citizens regardless of the price, as health is the subject matter of the State under entry 6 of List VII of the Constitution.
Amicus Curiae Naman Nagrath submitted that major manufacturers in the international market like Pfizer and Moderna, in response to global tender issued by different states, have categorically stated that they will directly deal with only the Central government and not the states. He further submitted that in view of the order dated 15.4.2021 issued by the Central Drugs and Standard Control Organization, several restrictions have been put in place before an outsider manufacturer is allowed to supply the vaccination for use by different State Governments, which would further impede the process of procurement.
In this regard, the Court urged the Central Government to consider the suggestion made by the Amicus for relaxing the rigour of the order dated 15.4.202 issued by the CDSCO. The Bench further noted: “The Central Government should by itself consider procuring the vaccination doses in sufficient quantity from the manufacturers from outside the country to provide the same to the States, rather than leaving it upon the States to do so.”
Vikram Singh, counsel for the Union of India, sought time to seek instructions regarding the stand of the Govt of India in this behalf.
The Advocate General also sought time to file a detailed affidavit/Action Taken Report to apprise the court regarding preparedness of the State Government for apprehending third wave of COVID-19. The matter is listed for May 31. ILNS\BG\SJ\RJ